For the past 2 months or so, I've been working steadily (read: slowly) on my
next blanket creation.
After browsing the store for a pattern that suited me, I settled on the Lily Chin sampler afghan from
Family Circle Easy Afghans,
the same book I used for my superyak blanket
(which, of course, is keeping wiley warm as i write ... am I the only person in the world that that lets their dog cuddle up with a blanket worth hundreds of dollars?).
Either way, I ended up choosing Ms. Chin's sampler afghan for a few reasons. One, I wanted something that i could work on in between my other projects. Two, the sampler is composed of 6 different patterns (8 squares each) so if I get sick of knitting one of the more complicated patterns, I can take a break and start knitting a simpler one. Or if I find that one of the simpler patterns has become a no-brainer, I can whip out a few of those in a row. The third reason I elected to knit the sampler is that I figured I could just knit a square here and there - and then all of the sudden, poof!, I'd have a blanket finished. Whether that really happens remains to be seen :)
You're probably asking yourself, "So what does this have to do with blocking?." Well not much, I guess,
except that I wanted to explain where the afghan pictures came from... and then I just couldn't stop writing.
In all seriousness, I think the sampler afghan is a perfect example of a situation in which blocking can be advantageous. Because the squares are all different, it's inevitable that they will turn out slightly different sizes. With blocking, you can normalize the shapes and sizes. In my project, I noticed that the cabled square consistently came out a little bit smaller than the others. But after following the steps below, I stretched it to match the rest of the squares!
Fill your sink up with a few inches of warm (not hot) water and a little bit of dish soap (I'm using Meyers Dish Soap, but Dawn works equally as well).
Submerge the knitted piece in the water and swish it around for a minute, completely soaking it. Note: don't let it sit there for a length of time - we've heard horror stories of knitters who let their project soak for an hour and all of the colors bled together. The idea is to quickly wash it and then to rinse it (step 4) immediately afterwards.
After you've adequately washed the piece (and some of the color/smell drains out), drain the warm water.
Fill your sink back up with cold water (no soap) and swish the piece around again, completely rinsing it.
After you've adequately rinsed the piece, drain the cold water.
Now, Diane has always said to place the project in the washer for about 30 seconds - on the spin cycle. I rarely do that, but only because I am too lazy to walk downstairs to where the washer is. I generally just squeeze out as much water as I can - and then start to stretch and form it to the desired size and shape.
Shape the knitted piece however you wish and then let dry on a towel (I use a doubled over towel and let lay on the kitchen table).
Viola! As you can see from the picture above, swatches knit out of natural/animal fibers absorb the water and
then 'stick' to the shape that you've created - just look at the difference between the unblocked square on the left - and the blocked square on the right. It's truly amazing to me... I'll never not block again!
The directions for this method are also posted on the Blocking article on our website.
Got a big mouth? Yeah, well, me too... when I find something that I like (or that likes me),
I just can't stop from telling everyone I know about it. That's why we have just implemented our
new Referral Program -
to reward all of you big mouths out there that just can't stop talking about us.
Of course, you know I'm joking about the 'big mouths', but I am serious about the new program.
The next time a friend of yours makes a purchase at JBW, make sure that they select "referred by a friend" when
asked "how did you hear about us?" Ask them to enter your email address in the space provided and
once they hit that "complete order" button, a $15 off coupon will appear in your email inbox. Pretty simple!!
A few things to mention (otherwise known as the fine print):
We can't put a coupon in your account unless you have an account set up with us.
So, if you're going to refer someone, make sure that your own account is set up and active.
If you referred someone a long time ago, just shoot them an email and ask them to revisit the
"how did you hear about us?" section in their JBW account online. If they enter your email address in the
space provided, you'll receive a coupon the next time they place an order.
You can only receive 1 coupon per purchase, per friend's email address and we ask that you don't refer yourself...
(While we do enjoy offering discounts, we still need enough left over for Buddy and Wiley to eat).
We hope that you enjoy this program and that you take full advantage of it. You can click here for more details, and don't hesitate to
contact us if you have any questions or suggestions.
Limited Edition - Lornas Laces Shepherd Sock Yarn
Yep, you read it correctly. We've teamed up with the angels at Lornas Laces to create a line of sock yarn
like you've never seen before. Each month we'll introduce a limited number of hanks in a new colorway,
a colorway inspired by anything and everything: the time of the year, upcoming holidays,
the weather outside, current events, or maybe something as simple as a recent guest on Oprah.
For August 2007, we came up with the color Rainforest. Why Rainforest? Well, because Rainforests remind us
of the tropics... and the tropics remind us of going on vacation... and August
is the month for summer-ending vacations...
Currently, we're only producing enough for about 1 pair of socks per U.S. state, so the likelihood of you seeing
someone else with the same pair is pretty doggone low. And once we sell out, we're sold out - no one in the UNIVERSE
will ever be able to get more. Lornas has promised us that they will destroy each month's secret dyeing algorithm,
so if you love socks - and if you love Lornas Laces (who doesn't?) - then you might want to grab a few hanks right
in the beginning. And don't worry - we're going to make things easier on all of you sock fanatics by
creating on an automatic shipping program - details will come in the next newsletter. In the meantime,
you can preorder Rainforest here.
Pattern Design Contest Winner: Hannah Merritt
Please help us to congratulate Hannah for June's winning entry! This terrific
summery pattern is a great introduction to simple lace work. This shawl is approximately an advanced beginner level of difficulty, so you don't have to be an expert to love making this shawl!
This shawl is a lightweight cotton semi-circular shawl, perfect for summer, and perfect for that new knitter wanting to start doing some lace. Not only are there some yarn overs, but this also has a very easy knitted-on border. Learning how to do that is essential for a lot of traditional lace patterns out there. The shawl has a unique beginning - a 4 stitch garter strip is knit, then stitches are picked up along the left side and along the cast-on edge, creating the slightly curved bottom. So many shawl patterns are the traditional pointy triangle, which, let's face it, aren't the most flattering for some of us. The rounded, short bottom falls around-about the waist, but is wide enough to completely cover the shoulders in any fashion you want.
Hannah lives in Reno, NV. She has been knitting for over 3 years and has been teaching both knitting and crochet
for the last 2 years. You can catch up with her current projects on her blog at
handmadebyhannah.blogspot.com. She also spins a lot of her own yarn,
and dabbles in weaving.
Thanks to all the entrants of this month's contest, and remember that your pattern will automatically be included in the next two months' contests.
For those who didn't make it this month, check out the full pattern contest details. The prize pack is currently valued at over $350!
The deadline for this month's contest is July 31st, 2007.
Spread the word! Do you have a knitting related website or blog? You can use the following image and sample link to create a link to this page:
(Right click and save it, then post it up to your site.)
While summer is traditionally known as the season for travel, I find myself toting projects around in my bag all year long....
When selecting a project for a vacation (or even for the trip to the grocery store), I look for ones that are small
enough to fit in my purse, simple enough that I don't have to constantly reference a pattern, and interesting enough
to keep me involved. Socks are a given, but sometimes you want to do something a little different. Throw one of the
Harmony Guides in your bag, along with some
summer weight cotton, and make a few dishcloths
for yourself (i'm trying to "Go Green" and replace papertowels in the kitchen with an army of handknit cloths).
Or start a sampler afghan - you can usually get 1 square done in a few hours...hats, wraps, felted purses,
shrugs or baby sweaters in the round...those also travel well.
Needles: Depending on how far you are into your project, you may or may not need to bring a wide selection of
needles. Obviously, if you've already begun (or have done your swatch), you know which needles you need.
If not, you'll want to bring an entire set. The Denise Needle
set is the obvious choice if you don't need anything under a US 5...it comes in a compact, sturdy case,
can be used as straight or circulars, and is airline safe.
Alternatively, if you just need a few pair (or just love your Lantern Moons
so much that you can't bear to be away from them), you'll want to organize them in one of the many needle
cases: the Lantern Moons
are classic and made from Silk; Ashland Sky
produces clear plastic cases that show off your needles at a glance; and
Offhand Designs offers a more glamorous way to store your needles - with custom velvety fabrics.
Though i can't help but fawn over the fancier knitting organizers, i've got a soft spot in my heart right now for those
Ashland Sky clear plastic pouches. An organizing fanatic, i love the idea of putting each of my smaller projects
in one of their project pouches... and then sticking a few of those in one of the totes... and you can't beat the prices!
Books: For me, there are 3 different categories of books that I take with me on vacation: books with project
ideas (try taking some random yarns and work your way through the One Skein book), general stitch books
for knitting washcloths or adding interest to my simple socks (try the Harmony or
Stitchionary series), and
knitting novels for beach/poolside reading (I love a good knitting mystery!!). Whatever you take, don't forget to
make copies (only out of books you own, please!) of the patterns you need - that way your book won't get ruined
when one of the kids splashes you from the pool.
Do you knit while you travel? Have any good tips for other knitters? Or any good knitting related travel stories? We'd love to hear them! Send us your inspirational, humorous, or just outright crazy stories and we'll post them on the site for all to enjoy... and if you have a picture of yourself, send that too! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So no matter where you're going - or what you're doing - there's always knitting that can be done. For more yarns and project ideas, visit the
Kit of the month - Socks For Summer!
Every month we feature a new yarn + pattern combination at a special kit-of-the-month discount...
In honor of the upcoming travel season (and the need for portable projects), this month's featured kit is the
Regia 6Ply Prints Sock Kit. On Sale for $13.61 (with the pattern), you're saving 25% off the original price of $18.15.
If you've already got a sock pattern you love, just order the yarn - you'll still get 25% off!
This kit will be available at the sale price through the end of the month (sale ends July 31st, 2007).
TEAM JIMMY BEANS...MEET RACHEL
Employee of the Month :: Rachel
Pregnant Rachel is due with twins this fall, so don't ask her to do any heavy lifting! A whiz at the computer & well versed on our website, she can answer any questions you might have about your order, our kits, or what pattern goes best with what yarn. Not only has Rachel mastered our computer systems (she enters many of the Kits on our website), but she is an amazing knitter as well (in fact, she took a class from Jimmy a few years ago...!).
Last Fall while working in our Reno store, I spent some time talking with a great customer from the Bay Area.
A lawyer, and in Reno on business, she had stopped in to get her yarn fix before heading back home to the Bay
(and she got quite a fix!!). Since we had been talking about different yarns (I guess I'm always talking about yarn,
eh?), she emailed me a few days later and suggested that I look into yarns from Malabrigo
- she mentioned that these remarkable hand-dyed yarns were selling like mad in the Bay Area and that she personally just couldn't get enough of
them! At the time, I wasn't quite in the market for a new yarn (considering we could barely fit what we had in the 2 stores and at our house), so I did what I always do: I made myself a reminder to look into it later. And 'later' arrived just a few months ago...!
Kettle-dyed in Uruguay (similar to our favorite Manos Del Uruguay), the Malabrigo yarns come in a variety of shapes and sizes. To start our collection, we ordered the standard
Worsted Merino ($10.50 for 216 yards) and the
Lace Baby Merino ($8.95 for 470 yards).
Like the Manos Del Uruguay, the colors border on insanely gorgeous (we honestly thought that Jeanne might have a heart attack when she opened the shipment) and it felts magnificently. Unlike the Manos, the Malabrigo yarns that we ordered are spun from Merino Wool - they are significantly softer and have something of a silky feel. I'll be honest with you, I'm not sure which I like more - the Manos or the Malabrigo. The colors are quite different, as are the textures and the prices. That said, sometimes I want to knit with something soft and silky, while other times I'm itching to knit with something a bit sturdier... know what I mean? Whichever you (or I) choose, I'm pretty sure that none of us will be disappointed!!
Every once in awhile, a sales rep comes in and shows me something that completely blows me away.
That's what happened when Brad, the Trendsetter rep, came in a few weeks ago.
I think he knew what my reaction would be, as he had this sly look on his face when he opened his shade book and
thumbed to the page with the Venus samples knitted up. In 6 stunning colors - and about 8 different yarns in
each hank, the Venus literally made Dannette, Amanda, and I gasp with delight. It took about 15 minutes
(and a bit of cajoling) to get Brad to give up his sample hank for Dannette to have it on the ball winder.
The next morning, Dannette was back in the store, 1/2 way finished with a capelet from the
One Skein Wonders
book (she loves that book, by the way), and was pre-selling the Venus to everyone that walked in the door.
It was a blast. The capelet was knit from the top down and perfect for the Venus - it ensured that the
stripes from the different yarns all lined up - and it only took 1 hank of the Venus (200+ yards)!
Now we're all gung-ho and ready to start our own projects with it - I'm thinking that one of the shells from
Knitting Pure and Simple would be perfect!
JULY SALE - MORE JAEGER & ROWAN CASHSOFT 4PLY
We have a few yarns on sale this month that have been discontinued. For some, we bought the remaining stock, so grab it while you can!
Rowan RYC is replacing the current Cashsoft 4Ply with one that has a slightly different fiber content.
The newly produced yarn will be virtually identical to the old, but our stock has the old labels and the original fiber content that we've all grown to love.
We won't, and can't get any more, so this is the last chance to get this incredible yarn at 30% off.
(don't worry, i've already got a bag of various colors stashed for myself!!)
Normally $8.50, the Cashsoft 4Ply is on sale for $5.95.
As you might have heard, Jaeger has discontinued a number of their most popular yarns. We grabbed as much as we could
of the top sellers and have them ready to ship out!
Well, we're getting it all together (we think) for Stitches Midwest in Chicago next month:
we've got our team of 'compensated volunteers' together, we're getting new shopping bags printed, working on printing t-shirts, and are making our lists and checking them twice.
I can't tell you how excited i am to be in Chicago in August - and hope that you will be too!! To date, we have 3
special events planned that you won't want to miss:
Meet the face behind your favorite Knitting at Knoon patterns
Sweet Pea, Safari Friends, and Triangulation!!
Chris de Longpre from Knitting at Knoon will be in our booth on Saturday at 11am to chat with you, sign patterns, and share her pattern writing experiences from the last few years.
Chris has just acknowledged that her heavily anticipated follow up to the Safari Friends
pattern will be released in September 2007. The new pattern is titled 'Prehistoric Pals' and is a 10-page booklet with 4 Pals.
As a thank you to all of her supporters, she will be bringing a very limited
number of autographed advance copies to the show on Saturday. If you love her designs, you won't want to miss this
Do you love Lornas Laces
hand dyed yarn? And have you caught yourself wondering how they create such
yummy color combinations? Or maybe you've just wondered if you can do the same?
Well, with the help of Jimmy Beans Wool and Lornas Laces, you can!!
Join us on Saturday from 3-6 to learn from the pros themselves on how to dye your own yarn in your
own dream colors. Choose from 6 different solids - or create a unique color combination that's all your own!
Just bring yourself, your creative spirit and $5 to cover expenses and you'll be going home with a hank of your
own hand-dyed yarn! Spaces are limited, so you might want to show up a little early
(the line for this event last time was almost an hour long!).
We'll also have a few hanks of the new Limited Edition August 2007 sock yarn available...
And last on the agenda, but certainly not least, is our participation in the 1,000 Knitters Project
on Sunday from 10-3pm.
1,000 Knitters is a long-term project by Chicago-based photographer (and knitter) Franklin Habit.
In this series of 1,000 individual portraits united by (literally) a common thread,
Habit seeks to lift the veil of anonymity that usually covers those who do handwork at home,
and commemorate a community that is often overlooked or sentimentalized.
Knitters interested in sitting for the project need no prior experience as models.
They may be any age, race, shape, gender, or ethnicity.
They must self-identify as knitters, must be willing to sign a standard model release
(under 18 must have a parent or guardian co-sign), and must be willing to have their names
appear in print along with their likenesses.
For more information, visit Franklin's blog at
If you're planning on attending the Market at Stitches, but aren't taking classes,
print out this flyer for a discount on admission.
Typically, I just show you what i've been working on lately, but i just couldn't resist including photos
of all of the projects at the store.
This tank top, knit in the round, took no time at all! The shoulders were knit using short rows and a fun lace stitch... and this yarn is just heavenly to work with - it took me 3-4 days just to find a pattern to use - and i'm sooo glad i chose this one!
When the sales rep gave us a hank of the Malabrigo Worsted Merino, Sandy shot home with the One Skein book and got knitting! She found this adorable infant pattern & finished the sweater/hat combo in just a few days... She's giving it to her grandson, who can then dress his teddy bear with it once it's too small for him!
When my friend Lucy told me that she was going to have a baby, i knew i had to knit something special - and one of a kind - for her. Since she didn't know if the baby was going to be a boy or girl, i tried to pick colors that could work for either (it always seems safer to err on the side of too boyish). Using my favorite Knitting Pure and Simple pattern, i adopted a stripe pattern from one of the Rowan Babies patterns... I am sooo happy with how it turned out!